Monday, August 17, 2009

The Spirituality of Flying

I spent seven hours on an airplane on Saturday and so had plenty of time to reflect on the spiritual dimension of flying.

Every time we step into a plane we are committing an act of trust. We are saying, in effect, that we have faith not only in the pilot but also faith in those maintaining the airplane and the air traffic controllers. When we’re passengers, there is no getting around this issue of trust.

Since becoming a passenger is an act of trust, it is an opportunity to grow spiritually. So much of the spiritual life has to do with trust: trusting in God or a Higher Power, trusting in others and trusting in yourself. Often, we understand the Christian concept of “faith” as “believing certain truths about God and Jesus.” But faith, as understood by Paul and other New Testament writers, is much more an “active trust” in the God revealed in Jesus Christ.

There is always an element of risk in an act of trust, especially when we can’t be certain of the trustworthiness of whom or what we’re trusting. For instance, before I board an airplane I don’t research the pilot’s credentials. Nor do ask to see the maintenance records for that particular plane. Yet, I still get on the plane. This act of trust is the result of having flown on hundreds of flights, as well as understanding that the risk of an airplane crash is negligible (much less than an auto crash).

What makes this act of trust in becoming a passenger an opportunity for spiritual growth is our awareness of what we’re doing. It’s easy to mindlessly board planes, trains or buses. But, if we do so mindfully then we are consciously exercising trust. And with exercise, the soul’s capacity for trust grows larger.

No comments:

Post a Comment